Chapter 1 – A new Viko
Komisar Sam Laster had only just been informed of its imminent arrival and rushed out to greet the flyer touching down gently on Hemby Polis Station’s landing pad, the hatch opened and a vision climbed down from the cabin.
A beautiful auburn haired woman wearing a short green striped dress and matching ankle boots walked over to greet him. “Hi Sam, Kista sends her regards.”
“Traz Viko, this is quite a surprise… you’re in vame.”
Ve grinned. “It’s what happens with us bloody aliens, Sam we need to talk in private.”
Laster led the glamorous alien through the station to his office with Viko oblivious to the silence that fell as they passed through. “Bloody hell what was that?” asked Constable Fry.
“That was Traz Viko, good lord it’s been three years.” replied Sergeant Worth. “Toki’s going to be happy to see ver, I think?”
Laster shut his door and sat down trying not to stare at Viko’s legs. “So Alu what brings you back to this corner of the universe?”
“I’m the advance party Sam, there’s a platoon of Combined Systems Marines arriving tomorrow from Akaba and I need to sort things out here.”
“Combined what?” asked Laster.
“You are behind the times Sam, the CSMF are hand-picked Special Forces from Earth and Melia working together.”
“And these Special Forces are coming to Bliss Bay because?”
“Sam, remember the war?”
He could he forget? Sam had fought in the Earth-Melian war, it had lasted five years and millions had died in bloody fighting across the systems, he himself had been captured by enemy forces and owed his life to the alien officer who took a fancy to him, Alu’s dama, or mother, Kista Viko. “How could I forget it? There’s a point to all this so get to it!” he demanded.
“I will if you’ll let me.” ve replied calmly. “Remember how the Solar Federation thought we attacked them and the Coshek claimed it was the other way around causing some to believe a third party was responsible?”
“I’ve heard that story before, it’s not news.”
“You won’t have heard this before, we’ve found them!” ve stated.
“Your Solar Force can take the credit Sam, the heavy cruiser SFS Colin Powell answered a distress call from a mining planet orbiting Keelis Minor and finding it under attack from two unknown vessels first destroyed one then pursued the other as it fled to a neighbouring system to vanish from their sensors. The cruiser went into orbit around a minor planet and waited while intercepting communications from the raider to its home world, then as the ship made a break for it the Powell disabled and boarded it.”
Viko produced a digi-book from ver bag showing Laster the damaged enemy ship then flipped the picture to show a maroon skinned humanoid in a tight black suit with neck ring, the face was marked with bright red patterning and the dark eyes held a malevolent glare.
“Is it wearing a spacesuit?” asked Sam.
Viko nodded. “They’re called the Vereen and their home world is Ultar, your people couldn’t get anything from them so we offered to help, we have our ways as you are aware.”
Sam knew only too well the Melian’s reputation for the harsh treatment of prisoners, it made many Solar Force soldiers choose to fight to the death rather than risk capture. “So this ugly sod and his comrades set us against each other?”
“Yes they have a small empire and big ideas, they observed the growing animosity between our races and decided to use it their advantage. They destroyed several of your vessels close to our borders and vice versa. Their stealth technology is far ahead of ours so they could hide easily, until we captured their ship that is. We worked out how to bypass it and have consequently discovered a lot of their outposts, but here’s some disturbing news, they have a military installation on a planet orbiting Gradalax VII.”
“Shit, that’s next door but one!” the star was only 14 light years from Re the parent sun of Osiris.
“A joint task force is being assembled to capture the base it’s too close to both our systems for comfort.”
“Okay that’s a more than a little worrying Alu, but why the marines?”
“We are also aware of a forward base on Plek Island.”
“What! This just gets worse, there’s an enemy base less than seventy miles from Bliss Bay?” Plek Island was a large rocky landmass so named for the long winged seabirds that inhabited its tall cliffs.
“I’m afraid so Sam, we don’t know how long it’s been established so the marines are going to recce it and either take it or call in reinforcements. There’s a Solar Force carrier in orbit ready to land troops at a moment’s notice.”
Laster exhaled deeply “This is hard to believe.”
“Sam I’m sorry but war is coming!” stated Viko.
“This is confidential information isn’t it?”
“At the moment I’m afraid it is Sam only the government in Akaba know about this, I trust you not to tell anyone.”
“Those marines are going to raise some eyebrows, what if these Vereen have informers here?”
“Funny you should mention that, this is where Bliss Bay’s finest are going to do me a big favour.” Ve smiled and revealed one more disturbing gem of information.
“Is that it?” asked Laster finally “or are you going to spring something else on me?”
“That’s it Sam, my team arrive tomorrow and we ship out when we get the word to go.”
“Your team, of course I should have guessed.”
“Why did you think I could tell you this, this is my mission Sam.” it was decided that the barely used airdock outside of Hemby would be assigned as platoon headquarters and with that done Alu peered out of the window into the main office. “I didn’t see Toki when I arrived is she still in the polis force?”
“Toki only works here part-time now but she still lives at the same address, you could pop round and see her.”
“I will Sam, I’ll catch you later.’
Laster watched the Melian sashay out of the office, travel bag over ver shoulder giving Gunter cheery greeting before leaving then he grinned wryly. “Boy is someone in for a big surprise.”
Toki almost squealed on seeing Viko throwing her arms around ver then drew back in surprise to look at ver shapely figure. “Oh god you’re in the female stage!”
“Does it disturb you Toki?”
“I don’t… I mean you… you’ve got a bigger bust than me now!”
“I’m still me Toki, in a year I’ll change to vale again, sorry I’m not what you expected but I had to see you.”
“Mummy?” said a voice and Alu looked in askance at the small child peering round Toki’s legs, the child had wavy auburn hair and almond shaped green eyes.
Toki scooped her off the floor and held her up. “Mili this is Alu come to visit us.”
“Tok, is she?” asked the Melian.
“Yes, she’s yours.”
“I had no idea” Alu reached out to touch her hand gingerly and the child turned her head away hiding against her mother.
“Why should you? I didn’t want to you to know and it wasn’t an accident either before you ask.” Toki mussed Mili’s hair and she smiled shyly at Alu.
“I would have come back if I’d known, I swear to it.”
“I’ve been alright, Sam and Mika have been like parents to me and he let me have a position in the polis station on a part-time basis.”
“You called her after Constable Meyer?”
“Yes poor Milinda I miss her.” Her daughter yawned “time for your afternoon nap young lady, Alu I’ll be back in a minute or two.”
“She is a human child?” Alu called after Toki as she left the room.
“Yes.” Toki replied. “now shh for a moment.”
Mili having settled down she returned to the main room to see Alu sitting looking slightly uncomfortable. The last time she had seen the alien ve looked somewhat androgynous but was definitely male as she could attest to. After the incident in the caves Viko had stayed for several weeks until being virtually forced to return to ver home planet, now this exotic woman sat on her couch. “I did wonder what the baby would turn out like when I was pregnant, but she is definitely human, she looks like her dala though.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Viko asked.
“After all that business with the Ambassador you were the hero of the hour, the poster boy for Melia.”
“A vek, not a boy!” Alu corrected her.
“Vek then, I knew you couldn’t stay indefinitely, the military wanted you back on Melia to show you off and heap praise on you and I knew that if I you’d known about my condition you would want me to come with you.”
“And you didn’t want to go to Melia?”
“I was born on Titan and have lived on Osiris since I was a girl. I went to Earth just once and it was awful, noisy and overcrowded with monstrous buildings and traffic everywhere, there was hardly anything green left alive and it stunk. This planet is like paradise and I’m happy here so why the hell should I leave all this to travel to a strange alien world?”
“Earth sounds a lot like Melia, but I come from Ixxix, it’s in a neighbouring system and rather like Osiris with more cities.” replied Alu.
“I couldn’t say that let alone spell it.” Toki laughed sitting down next to the alien.
Alu bent ver face close to Toki’s. “It’s Ixxix” ve whispered bringing ver lips closer.
Toki pulled away. ‘No, no, did you think you could just pick up where we left off three years ago?”
“I like you Toki and this is the first chance I’ve had to return!”
“But you’re a bloody vame now, why couldn’t you come back in vale?”
“It’s my gender cycle Toki and I can’t do anything about it!” ve thought for a second. “You said Mili wasn’t an accident, so why did you have my baby?”
“I really care for you too.” Toki replied. “I loved you if I’m honest and selfishly wanted to keep a piece of you when you had gone.” she glanced at Viko’s large travel bag. “Have you got anywhere to stay yet?”
“I thought you might let me spend the night here?” Ve looked dejected. “I’ll sleep on the couch if you feel uncomfortable.”
“Come here.” Toki put her arms around ver feeling Alu’s taut musculature under the thin dress “when we were together I believed I could handle you changing but seeing you here now like this, I’m not so sure?” they gazed into each other’s eyes, green to blue.
Toki briefly framed her hands around Alu’s face. “You are still you aren’t you?”
Alu kissed her with ver full plump lips. “I’m still me, everything is still here just the proportions have changed that’s all” ve placed Toki’s hand on a breast.
Toki cupped her fingers gently around it running a thumb over the nipple to feel it stand up under her touch. She briefly brushed her lips over Alu’s then kissed ver again with more passion “I haven’t done this before you know?” she said, tentatively moving the hand to Alu’s bare thigh to slide it under the hem of her dress. “Are you just like a human woman down there now?”
Viko smiled unfastening the buttons on Toki’s blouse. “There’s only one way to find out?”
Chapter 2 – Night moves
The reunited lovers spent the afternoon in each other’s arms until Mili woke breaking their reverie giving Viko the chance to play with ver child who seemed less shy now.
When it was dark, the Melian now wearing black fatigues went out into the night to join Sam and Gunter at the polis station and donned body armour. “I always imagine if anything bad is going to happen it will be in that den of iniquity Lang Kysten, never Hemby” grumbled Worth.
“Not this time Gunter old friend.” answered Sam as they set off into the Osirian night.
Thoth had already risen to cast its wan light on the trio as they moved silently to their objective, an impressive pile on the edge of town. It was one of the oldest houses on the island, built in a neo-gothic fashion that wouldn’t have looked out of place in an ancient black and white horror film, it was available for rent at a modestly high price and had the latest in mod-cons including an alarm system with cameras and motion detectors. “Someone spent a lot of your earth money on security.” remarked Viko surveying the house.
“It’s been rented to someone called B. Fryer for over a year.” Worth informed ver.
Capitan Helen Stok from the aforementioned Lang Kysten was already there waiting for them, Sam had pulled in everyone he could rely on and trust implicitly. “Prida is already at the back with Kodo.” She informed them, the back garden of the house faced the rugged countryside that surrounded Hemby, the rear wall had only the one gate and they had set up station there.
“How many are we up against.” asked Stok.
“Our intelligence says no more than four and not one must be allowed to escape.” said Viko.
“Six of us against four of them, should we have more bodies?” suggested Stok.
“Come on Helen you stood off an army of Taylor’s thugs a few years ago, we’re all ex-forces apart from Kodo and he’s well… Kodo.” replied Laster, they used a frequency suppressor to baffle the motion detectors, now all they had to do was avoid the cameras and bypass the alarm on whichever entrance they chose. After clambering over the wall they crept stealthily towards the house keeping to the shadows as much as possible while Stok scouted around to find a likely window. “Helen and I will enter the house, you and Gunter can deal with anything that comes out of the front door and Kodo and Prida have the back.”
“Wait a moment Sam this is my call.” said Viko slightly vexed.
“Helen has a targeting implant the same as me, can you see in the dark?” queried Laster.
Viko concurred and after disabling the alarm the two officers climbed in closing the window quietly behind them. “Why don’t we just break the door down?” asked Sergeant Worth.
“We need to take them before they can raise the alarm on Plek Island, let’s get round the front and keep a lookout for cameras!” replied the Melian.
Laster and Stok climbed into a room lined with bookcases “well-read spies?” whispered Stok, their right pupils glowing red as they crossed to the door in complete darkness.
Sam turned and put his finger to his mouth, there were voices on the other side, opening it the tiniest crack they listened intently.
“…and we have no further information on the Melian.” said a voice.
“Nevertheless you must keep it under observation.” Another voice, harsh, guttural, alien, that had to be one of the Vereen!
“Crawley will be assigned to watch over the polis woman’s house, she is least likely to draw attention.” replied the first.
“Crawley must take great care we cannot allow our operation to be discovered.” the guttural voice again.
“Do you have any further orders?”
“That is all for now, I will return to base and make my report.” said the alien.
Footsteps could be heard moving away, Laster worked out the direction. “They’re going to the back!” he whispered.
“Kodo and Prida will stop them” said Stok quietly.
“No, if that alien doesn’t return the others will suspect something is wrong!” he put in a small ear jack, opened his palm and touched the gold lattice there with his thumb “Kodo, sound only.”
“Kodo here sir, what’s the problem?” came the reply.
“Someone or something is leaving by the back door, do not stop them but get Prida to follow whatever it is.”
“Will do sir.” he replied.
The polismen withdrew to the darkness and watched over the wall as a humanoid form emerged from the house wrapped in a cloak, they could make out very little in Thoth’s dim light but could tell whoever it was did not herald from Earth or Melia. As the figure left the back garden along a well-worn path Kodo nodded to Prida who began following at a safe distance.
Inside the two officers exited the library entering the dark wood panelled hall, which even had a suit of armour in keeping with the ambience of the building then a man suddenly appeared at the top of the stairs. “What the fuck?”
“Polis stay where you are!” yelled Laster aiming his submachine gun, the man raised his hands.
Another man appeared along the corridor from the hall and fired a pistol, it went wide and Stok returned fire dropping him. A third man some distance down ran for the back door as the first drew a pistol winging Laster and pushing past him to making a break for the front door where he was wrestled to the ground by Worth and Viko as he ran out into the night. The escapee at the rear flew out of the house to bounce off the massive frame of Kodo who grinned pulling him to his feet and cuffing him.
“Are you alright Sam?” asked Viko, Kodo and Worth were marshalling their captives into the hall.
Helen Stok was tending to his arm. “It’s just a graze, he’ll live.”
“You said there were four?” said Laster wincing. It still hurt even if it was just a graze.
“I said no more than four.” replied Viko.
“The voices mentioned a woman and these are all men.” stated Laster and they all looked at the stairs.
Viko slowly crept upstairs with Stok covering ver and on reaching the landing they saw the corridor went two ways. “Left or right?” ve asked.
“Right.” said Stok.
Gunter leaving the captives to the tender care of Kodo joined them.
“Stay here in case you’re needed” ordered Viko and they cautiously began a room to room search.
The girl was hiding behind the door in the furthest bedroom and as Stok entered she dealt the officer a heavy blow with a nightstick sending her to the floor, upon hearing the scuffle Sergeant Worth closed with her as she emerged from the room and dodging the swinging club pinned her down to handcuff her.
“Helen?” he shouted.
“I’m alright Gunter, good job I was wearing this fucking helmet.” she replied and staggering out of the room glared at the girl struggling in the handcuffs resisting the urge to kick her. “You’re nicked missy, got anything to say that might help in your defence?”
The girl said nothing.
“You’re co-operation has been duly noted.” Worth hoisted his captive to her feet and marched her downstairs.
“Left side’s clear.” said Viko on returning to the hall. “There’s some very high tech communications equipment up there, it’s a good job this one ran the other way or we could have had a problem.” ve stared at the girl who scowled back. “Why betray your own world?” ve asked, again the girl said nothing.
“How many did we get?” asked the alien, Kodo was knelt by the wounded man.
Laster gestured to the girl. “Four counting smiley here and one’s going to need a hospital stay.” He replied. “And we’ve no word from Prida yet.”
Daze Prida had been in the Marine Special Forces and though too young for the war he had combat experience in a colony uprising and was now putting his skills to use stalking the mysterious fugitive. After walking some distance from the town it finally arrived at a spot where the gorse-like vegetation had been flattened down. The figure operated a small device and as if from nowhere a strange vehicle resembling the bizarre lovechild of motorcycle and jet-ski appeared. Isis rose over the horizon to join its sister moon in the sky illuminating everything in silvery light forcing Prida to retreat into the cover of a large prickly bush, the figure mounted the strange contraption throwing back the cloak to reveal a face that was definitely not human. The vehicle lifted off the ground with a low hum to head northeast in the direction of Plek Island.
Laster arrived home several hours later and gratefully climbed into bed next to Mikala who he had married after the incident in the cave, she woke despite his efforts not to disturb her. “Sam, you’ve been hurt?” she exclaimed on noticing his bandaged arm.
“It’s nothing, probably won’t even leave much of a scar.”
“Can you tell me anything about it?” Mika asked.
“It’s confidential Mika, sorry.”
“That Melian is involved isn’t ve?” she felt a pang of jealousy, Alu had made her feel inadequate the last time but Sam had assured her they only had a working relationship, then Toki Sahar had Alu’s baby proving him right. But knowing the alien had returned in female form Mika couldn’t help how she felt.
“You know I love only you.” He held her tightly. “Alu’s been to see Toki and er, she’s taken ver back in.”
“Toki?” exclaimed Mika. “and the alien… in female phase? Well I never, she’s full of surprises.”
“Well Alu changes again in a year and then who knows?” It had been a long night, Helen had sustained no injury from her blow on the head but the suspect who had been shot was not expected to survive till morning. The others had refused to say anything after their arrest and were currently incarcerated in the polis station, Viko wanted them to be shipped to the Combined Systems Forces base in Akaba but Laster insisted on waiting until he received instruction from the Chief Constable. He had qualms about handing them over, the prisoners were human and his own wartime experience made him nervous about allowing them to be subjected to military, quite likely Melian interrogation even if they were betraying their own race. He wanted to sleep, tomorrow Viko’s marines would be arriving and after that the inhabited universe would be going to war again.
Mika snugged up to Sam, her hand wandering along his body, “are you tired?”
Chapter 3 – Marines
They watched the khaki coloured flier drop from the sky to land gently at the old airdock. “Why didn’t you tell me about Toki?” asked Alu, ve had gone to greet the platoon with Laster accompanying ver in his official capacity to liaise with the military.
“I thought you should discover ver for yourself.” He replied.
“Ver, then you know Mili isn’t a human girl child?”
“I spent quite a while as a guest of your people during the war, remember? Some family groups were at the base so I’ve seen Melian children before, Toki knows Mili is a vek but she wants ver to grow up unexposed to prejudice.”
“So she lied to me then Sam… but I do love her. It’s going to be hard to hide the truth as Mili nears puberty.”
“Did I just hear you use the L-word Alu?” asked Sam with a grin.
“A slip of the tongue, that’s all.” Alu replied blushing. “We’ll talk later, here comes my lieutenant.”
A soldier had climbed down from a side hatch as the rear ramp started to descend and marched up to them to salute smartly. “Lieutenant Pierce, Ektraz vek!” he barked.
Viko returned the salute. “At ease Pierce, are the men ready?”
“That they are Vek, all ready and eager to go.” soldiers were disembarking from the rear of the military vessel.
“Glad to hear that, let me introduce Komisar Laster, Chief of Police and our liaison here.”
Laster shook the officer’s hand. “If you need anything let me know and I’ll get it organised” Ektraz? Laster took note of Viko’s promotion an Ektraz was the Melian equivalent of a colonel.
The Lieutenant thanked him then asked. “Would you care to inspect the troops Vek?’
Viko and Pierce went over to the soldiers, formed into neat rows. Laster could see they comprised of roughly equal numbers of human and alien troops most had their hair cropped military short but a few Melians sported the same bob Viko had worn on their first meeting, all looked stern and capable. After Viko had inspected ver command they broke ranks to begin bringing metal crates from the lander as a smaller flier arrived. A human officer with the insignia of a Brigadier approached and it was now Viko’s turn to snap to attention.
“Sir!” ve barked.
“Good to see you again Viko, everything in order?” Viko answered in the affirmative and the officer turned to Sam. “Ah! You are the veritable Komisar Laster no doubt? Pleased to meet you old chap I’m Brigadier Stuart.” he held out his hand for Sam to shake. “The CSMF are my pigeon and this is their first mission, we’re setting up a logistics base but Solar Force will be establishing a small garrison here regardless of what happens on Plek Island.
“Why?” asked Sam.
“The fishing industry is going to be very important to the systems during the coming conflict, shoat farming is on the increase and of course there’s the new electronics factory in Lang Kysten. An attack by the Vereen here or on any of the islands could cause serious shortages. All the larger islands will be garrisoned not just Bliss Bay, sorry about that but we will leave once this business is sorted.” answered Stuart.
“Which could be when, a week, year, a century?” asked Laster sardonically, he was no longer in the forces, the man’s rank meant nothing to him.
Stuart grimaced showing a lot of teeth. “Well you’ve got me there old chap, you may as well ask how long is a piece of string?”
“I see, well I can’t refuse can I?”
“Afraid not old chap, I rather think your Chief Constable will contact you to this effect shortly. Komisar I have to brief my officers now but before you go Major Albus would like a word.”
“Major Albus, Logistics.” Announced a rotund officer who had travelled with the Brigadier, he gestured to a pile of metal boxes some of the marines had brought up.
“They look like ammo crates” said Laster.
“Right first time sir.” said the Major opening one to reveal it was packed full of magazines. “These will fit your MIL-70 sub-machine guns and there are clips for your Starblaze pistols.”
“Very nice Major Albus but we have plenty of ammo at both Polis stations.”
“Not these you don’t sir, our friends the uglies have very efficient body armour. Regular bullets won’t touch them, these on the other hand have finely pointed case hardened tips and high velocity propellant, they’ll kick a bit and your guns will overheat if you’re not careful but they will bring down a Vereen pretty sharp.”
“Are we likely to need them?”
“Who’s to say sir? Better safe than sorry, you’ll need to send up a land cruiser from Hemby for them I doubt your Colt polis car will carry this lot.”
Laster drove Viko back to Hemby, having of course finally received communication from the Chief Constable to confirm everything that Brigadier Stuart had told him. The usually garrulous Melian seemed quiet and pensive. “Penny for your thoughts?” he said to the Melian.
“Huh? Oh I’m overthinking everything, worrying, not good in an officer I suppose Sam.”
“I used to overthink things and I’d like to believe fewer men died because of it.”
“It’s tonight Sam, we set off at twelve.” Alu said gravely. “This is my first command, a military polis officer in charge of a platoon of marines, it should be Pierce in control really I’m treading on his toes.”
“I thought all Melian soldiers were technically military polis and anyway they wouldn’t have picked you if they thought you couldn’t do it?”
“They thought Brigadier Stuart was crazy you know, Earthlings and Melians in the same unit, sworn enemies fighting alongside one another? No-one wanted the bloody job so like an idiot I volunteered and it’s not just my first mission it’s the CSM’s, oh we’ve got some old hands from the last days of the war and a good sergeant, Pierce has a bit of experience in colonial disturbances but that’s it. We’re highly trained but hardly battle-hardened, if we succeed tonight the marines become a real unit, if not well it probably won’t matter because we’ll all be dead.”
“Shit Alu, whatever you do don’t let anyone know how you feel! You can do it, bloody hell you stood off a mob wearing fishnets and you survived being thrown off a cliff. You’re a survivor, hell I’d be proud to serve alongside you!”
“How about under me?” smiled Alu.
“That’s more like you, I’ll get you back to Toki’s and you tell her how you feel…”
Early evening saw the girl in question sat on the bed watching Alu dress, “you’re going somewhere dangerous aren’t you?”
Alu fastened camouflaged trousers over an olive T-shirt and picked up ver armoured jacket. “You know I can’t tell you that my love, not until the mission’s over, I’m sorry.”
“I’d just accepted the idea of you being around again and now you’re leaving.” her voice was tremulous. “Alu, you will come back won’t you?”
“I certainly intend to Tok, it’s just a mission.”
The girl began to sob. “Don’t go they’ll find someone else.”
Viko held her close. “They can’t, things are going to get very bad very soon I can’t say any more.” Alu kissed her. “I love you Toki and when this is all over, the big thing that’s coming not this little mission, I’ll leave the military and stay here with you if that’s what you want.”
When Sam picked Viko up he looked at ver expression. “Toki took it badly?”
“What do you think Sam? I find out I have a child and her mother happily takes me back in only to find out that I’m off the next day.” Alu’s eyes were moist. “She’s heartbroken.”
“We’ll look after her.”
“Thank you Sam, you are a decent earthman.”
Viko sat aboard the lifter and looked at ver troops, most looked apprehensive, even Lieutenant Pierce was pale only Sergeant Esteban seemed calm and collected.
Esteban looked at Viko. ‘Ektraz, Marine Thalista here tells me you once got thrown off a cliff.”
“Well the sea did cushion the drop somewhat and I did use someone’s body to break my fall.” related Viko.
“Someone’s body?” Pierce asked incredulously.
“I’d used him to stop myself being shot, he fell on me and we both went over.”
“Holy Mother of God!” exclaimed Esteban “I’m staying close to you vek you’re indestructible, can anyone beat that?” he asked.
“During the war a grenade landed next to me and didn’t go off” piped up an experienced old soldier.
Several other old hands joined in with various tales of bravado then the conversation turned scatological and sexual with everyone trying to outdo one another. The mood had relaxed considerably, Viko looked at the sergeant who smiled and winked.
“We reach the drop zone in ten minutes.” The pilot’s voice broke into their reverie.
Pierce questioningly looked at Viko. “Your call Lieutenant.” stated the Melian.
He stood up. “Right, Marines check your weapons get your gear ready!”
“You heard the officer” yelled Esteban. “Are you ready to kick some Vereen arse?”
“Sir, yes sir!” the soldiers replied in chorus.
“I said are you ready?” he shouted again.
“Sir, yes sir!” they repeated even louder.
“Lock and load marines we’re going in!”
Silence fell once again as the marine airship crested the cliff face at the southern end of Plek Island and sinking slowly to the rocky ground, the rear ramp dropped quickly and Ektraz Viko led the 1st Platoon Combined Systems Marines out into whatever the night might bring.
Chapter 4 – Plek Island
Brigadier Stuart waiting anxiously in the operations room heard the call he was dreading come in. “Venture One to Eagle Nest, our transport destroyed, we require immediate extraction, we’re coming under heavy fire, I repeat we’re coming under heavy fire…”
The signal ended abruptly, “Venture One this is Eagle Nest, do you copy, over?” asked the comms operator urgently.
“Forget about that! Contact the Steadfast, tell them to de-orbit right now!” yelled Stuart, hang on Viko!
The Ektraz looked at the spot where the comms operator had been, there wasn’t much left, then Viko risked a glance from behind the shelter of the rock. The second armoured vehicle was still hovering forward, they had destroyed the first by firing a heavy laser straight into an intake at the back splitting it open along one side sending flame bursting out before it crashed to the ground, no-one had escaped from the vehicle and Viko wasn’t even certain it was manned.
They had yomped halfway across the barren island concealing their advance using improved Vereen stealth technology before encountering the enemy. Three sentries were spotted to be taken down silently by a sniper then Viko led a small detail cautiously forward to discover the enemy base. It was well established in a network of caves, a common feature on a lot of the islands and ve realised with some trepidation that hundreds of troops could concealed below. The platoon had attempted to make a discrete withdrawal reaching a rocky hollow before a Vereen patrol, sent out to discover what had happened to their missing sentries located them and all hell broke loose. Pierce and several marines engaged the enemy killing them quickly before being cut down by a hail of small arms fire from reinforcements following close behind, the marine flyer coming in for a fast evacuation had been struck by an energy weapon and crashed exploding into pieces.
Then the enemy armour had appeared, two of them beetle black and looking like strange flattish sea creatures, they wielded a strange ray that volatilised flesh on contact reducing its victims to charred skeletons, even more of Viko’s men had been lost to this horrendous weapon.
The laser operator had gone down now leaving only the mortar-man providing long range support, he was doing a first-rate job holding back the attack but the remaining armoured vehicle seemed impenetrable to the rounds so the corporal ceased firing not wanting to waste more of his dwindling supply of ammunition. A marine caught out of cover fell wounded and Viko crawled out to rescue the casualty only to be hit verself, trying to ignore the agony in ver left shoulder Alu grabbed the injured marine by ver equipment harness with ver one good hand and pulled the injured vale into cover to spot Esteban moving stealthily towards the tank holding a bandolier of grenades obviously intending to throw them in front of the vehicle as it approached. As their surviving medic tended to the injured marine Viko could only watch through a mist of pain as the sergeant got to within a few metres only to fall to the stony ground shot, the armoured vehicle was getting closer and the Ektraz knew what was left of ver men were doomed when it breached their natural redoubt, but as it hovered over Esteban’s bloodied form he weakly held the bandolier aloft and Viko realised that the sergeant was not yet dead, then he triggered the grenades and the tank caught in the detonation was thrown backwards to explode in flames.
A muted cheer went across the line as they watched his self-sacrifice. “Hold fast marines” shouted Viko with what strength ve could muster. “Our reinforcements are on their way.” I hope!
On Bliss Bay people woken by the thunderclap of the sonic boom came out onto the street to look up and watch the fireball streaking across the sky. In Lang Kysten, Leading Constable Kodo gazed open mouthed at the sight as did the drunken revellers he held in each hand.
In Hemby as the flames subsided to reveal the ugly silhouette of a Solar Force dropship, Toki watched holding a crying Mili in her arms. “See darling, that nasty bang was just a silly big spaceship.” She hugged her daughter comforting her, please let Alu be alright.
Komisar Sam Laster, the only civilian on the island who knew the significance of the Steadfast’s arrival stood outside the Polis Station watching the Steadfast as the atmospheric engines kicked in.
The massive troopship was tore across the sky towards Plek Island where the embattled marines were now fighting for their lives as another armoured vehicle had emerged from the enemy base and was advancing steadily as Corporal Bigsby the mortar-man, having finally exhausted his ammunition joined his comrades in arms for the last stand.
Thalista, a Melian Corporal, called to his commanding officer. “Ektraz, someone could hit the bastard as it comes over the ridge like the Sarge did!”
Viko looked at the remnants of the platoon, they were at one-third strength and most were wounded, some badly. “Marine, I’m not going to ask for volunteers.”
“Vek, you don’t need to!” said Thalista ver face set with grim determination.
Viko understood. “Marines!” ve yelled. “Remember this, Melia and Earth are fighting together here so don’t let the bastards have it easy, let’s show them how to die.” As all sounded their approval Alu struggled to remain conscious.
The tank was approaching the ridge but could not yet get the angle to fire down on them and its supporting infantry hesitated reluctant to move forward because of the ferocity shown by the marines. This was it, thought Viko through a haze pain and nodding to Thalista who with the last few grenades in hand prepared to follow Esteban into glory.
Suddenly a beam of energy lanced down from the sky to blow the armoured vehicle apart, the Steadfast had arrived! The ungainly military vessel circled the area all guns blazing before landing ahead of the stricken platoon dropping the ramps to disgorge it’s cargo of Avenger Fighting Vehicles carrying a company of Solar Force infantry into battle…
Sam Laster had arrived at the airdock to fetch the recovering Viko back to Hemby, seeing ver standing with Brigadier Stuart outside the field hospital, formerly the terminal lounge he walked across to them. Laster had clearance to enter the military base but Toki had to make do with waiting impatiently at the fortified gatehouse with her daughter.
“This place has changed in a couple of days.” Laster said to the officers upon meeting them, fighter aircraft could be seen dwarfed by the Steadfast on the landing field, a barracks was being erected by lifting machines and a large encampment was visible in the distance.
“Necessary precautions I assure you Komisar Laster, the Ektraz and ver team have proved themselves to be a viable unit, the CSM are guaranteed a future.” said Stuart.
“I heard almost two-thirds of them perished?” said Sam.
“Viko’s marines proved the two systems can fight together in a single unit and that was the real point of the mission.” He informed him.
“Shame over twenty good marines had to die to prove that.” muttered Viko.
“That’s war I’m afraid.” said Brigadier Stuart.
“Is it?” Viko retorted limping off towards the gatehouse, arm in a sling.
“Ve’ll be alright Brigadier, Toki will look after ver.” said Sam.
“I hope so Komisar, I have high hopes for that officer.”
“It was ver first real battle, I’ve been there I know how Viko feels.” explained Laster.
“So have I Komisar, so have I!” retorted the Brigadier. Alu reaching the gate put an uninjured arm around Toki kissing her then Mili. Stuart watched the couple curiously and asked. “So that child is Viko’s daughter?”
“Yes but the child’s not exactly ver daughter, or son come to that.” replied Laster.
“Hmm, bit of an unconventional relationship what?” observed Stuart.
“You’re very keen on humans and Melians working together Brigadier, I think both worlds may soon have to get used to this sort of thing.” stated Laster.
© Kyt Wright 2019
Human-like aliens originally from the planet Melia, fourth planet from the yellow dwarf star Sirix and having a sidereal period almost identical to Earth’s. Their society is based around a militaristic stratocracy and like Earth have colonised many planets.
Melians are a hermaphroditic race cycling bi-annually between male and female except while in gestation. Androgynous in appearance their breasts and reproductive organs swell or diminish to suit their cycle. Melian DNA is identical to human beings making inter-racial breeding possible and leading to much speculation that humanoid races on both Melia and Earth are the result of a genetic seeding programme by a vastly superior civilisation.
Melian nominative pronouns;
Ve – used in place of he, she in Earthish
Ver – him, her
Vez – his, hers
Vek – sir, madam
Vale – male stage of cycle
Vame – female stage of cycle
Vamlek – the stage between cycles (approximately two earth months)
Dama – a vek who has born a child.
Dala – a vek who has sired a child.
Damala – one who has both borne and sired a child.
Vashek – sibling.